Whingeing Aussies and their beer belly

Once we put up with whingeing Poms. Now it’s whingeing Aussies. They are far richer than us, so what’s the beef? And why should we bother? The problem is China — or, rather, China plus Australians’ punchy self-importance. In security … Continue reading

Is the public service serving the public?

On Thursday Bill English will give his annual pep-talk to the Institute of Public Administration. It comes as we are reminded that the then Ministry of Economic Development in 2011 bent tendering rules to obey John Key’s wish for a … Continue reading

Time for cricket — and a wider focus on India

The cricket world cup starts this weekend: ducks, bouncers, googlies, silly mid-ons, slips, Australian sledging — and match-fixing? There’s money to be made. Stacks. Underneath the razz there is still a faint echo of “willow on leather” — endeavour, not … Continue reading

What if there had been no Treaty of Waitangi?

Some historians test their analysis by asking what if some event hadn’t happened or an alternative course had been taken at a fork. So: what if there had been no Treaty of Waitangi? One easy answer is that we wouldn’t … Continue reading

The environment is changing — even for Greens

On Sunday the Greens will mull adjustments to their political clothing. They may need more than a nip or a tuck or slight change of shade. Technology is changing the Greens’ environment. Greens used confidently to claim the future. Only … Continue reading

Work is not what it used to be

Andrew Little centred his first speech as Labour leader on “work”. He hit the mark. Work is changing fast and taking society with it. There are two main drivers, globalisation and technology. Globalisation intensified in the 2000s into what Harvard … Continue reading

For the economy, a year of uncertainty and debate

From September the global oil price has halved. The milk solids price halved from February to December. Those are two indicators that the international economy is unsettled. Our supposedly “rock star” economy faces an “interesting” 2015. One marker: Bill English’s … Continue reading

The world in 2015: a disordered place

Just 100 years and six months ago, Europe was an ordered place. By this time 100 years ago it was in brutal disorder. Early in her time as Prime Minister, Helen Clark talked of an “incredibly benign (security) environment”. The … Continue reading

Even the world’s small can stand upright

Here on Middle Earth what does 2015 hold? That we will still be hobbits at its end? Or that we will stand upright? No wonder Australians sneer: Sir Peter Jackson, Air New Zealand (in its “safety” videos), Wellington airport (scrawled … Continue reading

Listen to the bones: hear the value of a full life

Humanity’s dark side has been on show this year: beheadings, aeroplanes downed, Americans torturing muslims, the Taleban executing children. Where is the good? John Key’s entry into his party’s campaign launch on August 24 was amidst a phalanx of government … Continue reading